Social Media Hurts Friendships…
Has this happened to you?
I got into a Facebook argument with my neighbor yesterday. It is very unlike me to do such a thing and was very surprised at myself. Because I am a democrat in a majority republican neighborhood, I am quite used to seeing people post mean things about Pelosi, Obama, and AOC. I see them post their own views as though it is impossible to see things differently. I watch them praise Trump and the republican party on a daily basis while bashing democrats as far-left radicals that want to destroy the country. My usual strategy is to politely scroll by and move on with my day.
Depictions that make my skin crawl.
What prompted my unusual jump into the political fray with people I know was a meme that my husband showed me:
It literally made my skin crawl. What an incredibly unfair, mean, and inaccurate picture. Mark asked me if he was being silly for being bothered by it. No, no he wasn’t. When I saw who posted the meme it made me feel even worse. I have lived across the street and had a neighborly friendship with this person for at least 5 years.
Firing back (not so neighborly).
Feeling shocked he would post such a thing, I immediately put a cheap jab in the comments and attempted to move on. It wasn’t until hours later that I really figured out why I was so upset about it. This was just a list of the all-too-familiar character attacks that are thrown at democrats day in and day out masquerading as policy views.
I logged back on with the intention of articulating how cruel I believed the post was only to find other commenters (my neighbors) backing him up. They were bantering about how accurate the meme was, how democrats can’t get out of it, and how the truth is undeniable. That made my blood boil. For better or for worse, we put together a meme of our own in an attempt to show him what a mean post that was:
Now comes the backlash of ME speaking my mind (wait, but where was that for his comment?)
I’ll admit, I’m not proud of my harshness. And as you can probably imagine, I got bombarded with a bunch of guys telling me how unfair it was, how I’m not attacking them with policy and leftists just name-call when there are no more arguments. I attempted to go back and forth trying to make the point that the original isn’t rooted in policy either, but it didn’t land.
So, instead of explaining what this is, I am going to illustrate it right now.
When you walk away from this meme, you feel like good people choose red and bad people choose blue. Why? Because it is easier to hold on to your stereotyping by saying a socially acceptable microaggression than saying blatantly ignorant prejudice. This is exactly what microaggression means.
How social media images can subliminally mislead your gut instincts
Not because of policy differences, but because of what those policy buzzwords gleaned from the depths of the internet imply. Let’s take the original meme, remove the buzzwords, and replace them with what they actually mean.
It becomes quite obvious when broken down like this why it’s is such a terrible meme.
Flipping the script: Do you see now why this is harmful?
Now, as requested by the many commenters, I will add policy buzzwords to the meme that I made to further illustrate my point:
As you can see, I can easily hide my insults under a mask of ‘policy positions.’ I can throw this meme at republicans and say, “I’m not attacking you. I’m just stating your positions in a very simple way. Very easy to understand!” No matter how much someone might argue that my assessment is unfair I can reply with, “The truth hurts! Can’t weasel your way out now!” Right?
Closedminded images can lead to damage far beyond social media relationships.
Dialogue like this makes it so obvious that most people have no desire to learn about or understand the other side. The ingrained view of democrats that these guys displayed shows that most of their experience with ‘leftists’ is through the internet with little exposure in real life. My family didn’t practice the predominant faith and sat on the other side of the political spectrum so it was hard for us to find our place in the community. The constant immersion in people who differed from our worldview helped peak a desire in us to understand and learn about the other side. Unfortunately for me, I have discovered that it didn’t go both ways.
It breaks my heart to learn this about people I love. But…
The thing that is most sad to me is that, after a lot of effort, I was a part of this community. I babysat for people, they babysat for me. I delivered cookies and exchanged Christmas gifts. We had playdates and girls nights. I attended neighborhood gatherings and opened my home every Halloween. It’s so disheartening to know that even after all the work I put in to contribute to this community that this is how I am viewed. An America-hating baby killer.
Social Media might not be the actual problem.
It is just exposing the problem that existed all along.
This is a prime example of how social media is destroying relationships. The more I explained my side, the more it became clear that my neighbor, and his friends, don’t care at all if they hurt others. They don’t care to listen or look inward. They will never learn the lesson that a democrat in Utah, like me, is forced to learn. Being kind is more important than being right.